Francisco Liriano strikes out nine, holds Twins to just one hit
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Francisco Liriano took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, Paul Konerko homered and drove in three runs Saturday, and the Chicago White Sox stayed on top of the AL Central with a 5-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
Liriano (6-11) was tremendous against his former team, allowing only a two-out homer in the seventh to Trevor Plouffe. He walked two, hit a batter and struck out nine in seven innings.
The White Sox entered the day with a one game lead over Detroit in the Central,
Acquired from the Twins on July 28, the victory was Liriano's third for the White Sox and his first against Minnesota.
Liriano's bid for the second no-hitter of his career ended after hitting Justin Morneau with a pitch with two outs in the seventh. Plouffe then homered to left-center on Liriano's 96th pitch of the game.
Jesse Crain, another former Twins player, pitched a perfect eighth inning for the White Sox.
Closer Addison Reed faced three batters to start the bottom of the ninth, but didn't record an out. With the bases loaded, White Sox manager Robin Ventura then turned to Matt Thornton to finish the game.
Thornton got Morneau to ground into a run-scoring double play and Plouffe to ground out to pick up his third save in seven chances.
Slugger Adam Dunn returned to the White Sox lineup for the first time since straining a muscle on his right side more than a week ago. Dunn, who missed seven games, went 2 for 3 with a walk and scored a run before being lifted for a pinch-runner in the top of the eighth.
Chicago's original plan did not have Liriano pitching on Saturday. Liriano, who has been bouncing back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen, started to give Jose Quintana and Gavin Floyd extra rest and allow Quintana to start Monday's makeup game against the Tigers.
Liriano, who has been both very good and well below average in his career, allowed only two baserunners through the first six innings. He walked Josh Willingham with two outs in the first inning, but quickly got the next batter, Morneau, to ground out. Liriano walked Drew Butera to lead off the bottom of the sixth and then got Pedro Florimon to ground into a double play.
The White Sox, who have won the first two games of the series, grabbed the early lead against Twins starter Samuel Deduno.
Kevin Youkilis walked with one out in the first and then went to third on Dunn's single down the line. Youkilis put Chicago ahead 1-0 when he scored on a Konerko groundout.
Two innings later, Konerko hit his 23rd homer of the season, a two-run shot into bullpens in left-center field, to give the White Sox a 3-0 lead.
Chicago manufactured a run in the fourth. Dayan Viciedo walked, went to second on a wild pitch and scored on Gordon Beckham's single up the middle.
Deduno (6-4) struggled with his control from the start, throwing only 40 of his 86 pitches for strikes. Deduno, who had been undefeated at Target Field, lasted just four innings, giving up four runs on three hits with five walks and six strikeouts.
Chicago added a run in the top of the ninth when Orlando Hudson scored from second on Alexi's Ramirez single.
2-0: Chicago's record in two games against the Twins when Liriano starts
22: Home runs for Plouffe
4: Games in which Liriano has fanned nine batters or more this season
Joe Mauer missed his fifth straight game with back soreness
Ryan Doumit remains day-to-day with strained oblique muscles
• Sunday: vs. White Sox, 1:10 p.m. Chicago RHP Jake Peavy (10-11, 3.27) vs. Twins LHP Scott Diamond (11-7, 3.46).
• Monday: Off.